Sikkim – At a glance

yumAny one seeking a visit to the Switzerland of India i.e. Yumthang in the state of Sikkim by air or train from any part of  India has to reach Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Rly Station, both around 10 Km. from Siliguri, which is the main business hub in the North Bengal. From Siliguri, about 115 km from Gangtok, one has to hire a car/jeep and travel for three and half hours to reach Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim via Rangpo, the entry point from West Bengal. The Sikkim Nationalised Transport, a Sikkim Govt. transport department outfit also runs a fleet of buses both luxury and ordinary, apart from private buses which covers the distance within 5 to 6 hours.

Sikkim, a tiny state, resting in the lap of mighty Himalayas- guarded and protected by Mt. Kanchendzonga and other mountain ranges is blessed by unspoilt natural beauty. Earlier, a protectorate of  India with monarchial government, it metamorphosed as the twenty second state of the Indian union in 1975. Sandwitched between Nepal in the West, Bhutan in the east, plateau of Tibet in North and State of West Bengal in the South, it offers a pristine and enviable natural beauty which includes alpine landscapes, thick luxuriant tropical forests, rivers in torrents and peaceful lakes – a true Shangrila. In a rugged stretch of  7096 sq. km. are encompassed climates varying from the sultry tropical to the dry arctic, animals like marmots and the red panda, a  wide range of flora from primulas to the magnolia and diverse cultures.

Some general Informations :-

Total area                  : 7096 kms.

Total population        : 570077 (as per census)

Status                         : 22nd State of India

Capital                       : Gangtok

Latitude                     : 27 – 28 degree North

Longitude                  : 88 – 89 degree East

No. of Districts          : 4 (East, West, North & South)

Altitude                     : 5500 ft. (Gangtok)

Temperature              : Summer – Max. / Min. 21/13 degree centrigrade

Winter   -  Max. / Min. 13/5.3 degree centrigrade

Annual rainfall          : 3894 mm

Best Seasons             : Summer & Winter

Clothings                   : Summer – light woolens

Winter – heavy woolens

Nearest Airport         : Bagdogra, 124 kms

Nearest Railway stn  : NJP 125 kms from Gangtok

Famous Cuisine & Drinks : Momo, Thukpa, Phagshapa, Sael roti,

Niguru with Churpi, Gundru Chang (Thomba).

Local Communities   : The Lepchas, The Bhutias, The Nepalies.

The state of Sikkim is embedded with four jewels i.e. East Dist., West Dist., North Dist., and South Dist. which all are heavens for the tourists. While all the natural beauties cannot be showcased in one shelves for the avid tourists, each jewel has its own beauty and glamour as can be seen in any of the beauty pageant. Here one who visits the state will certainly leave no opportunity to atleast see them and enjoy the rare unspoilt beauty.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

East Sikkim

The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok is situated in the East district. As such it is the administrative hub of Sikkim. Besides, the usual shopping of mementoes and artifacts in Gangtok, it offers panoramic views of the hills. Other places of interest are :-

  1. Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom – In Gangtok, promotes and keeps alive the state’s traditional art and craft. A storehouse of hand woven woolen carpets, motifs, blankets, shawls and other gift items.
  2. Burtuk Waterfalls – 20 minute drive from Gangtok on 31A National Highway leading to North Sikkim. The source of the waterfalls is Ratey Chu – the main water source of Gangtok.
  3. Hur-Huray Dara (Nam-Nang) – Opposite to Sikkim Legislative Assembly provides a breathtaking view of the dense forest and lush green valley.
  4. Enchy Monastry – A 200 year old monastry built by Lama Druptok Karpa – a tantric master known for his power of flying. Also famous for ‘Chaam’ – a religious masked dance performed every year around January.
  5. Flower Festival – Every year, the show is organized near the White Memorial Hall complex, Gangtok during the spring season showcasing the rare orchids and other flowers of Sikkim.
  6. Gangtok Ropeway – The lower terminal station at Deorali Market, the intermediate terminus at Nam-Nang and the upper station below the Secretariate, Tashing covers a distance of 1 km. in 7 minutes. It provides a panoramic view of in and around Gangtok.
  7. Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa) – This was built by the Venerable Trullshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibet Buddhism in 1945. It has 108 prayer wheels and inside holy book, books on mantras and other religious objects.
  8. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT) – A renowned worldwide centre  for study of Buddhist philosophy and religion. It has a treasure of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts and statues etc.
  9. Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgal Memorial Park – He had the courage of his conviction and was undoubtedly a  pioneer among his peers in advocating the modern system of governance in the Himalayan kingdom. This park was established as a tribute to the most illustrious Chogyal of Sikkim.
  10. Saramsa Garden – About 14 km. off from Gangtok, the home of Sikkim’s many exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants.
  11. Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre – A 45 minute drives from Gangtok and 24 km. away, the centre provides world’s most unique religious scriptures and rare religious objects.
  12. Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden – Established in the year 1987 and located just half a kilometer before Rumtek Monastry, it comprises of virgin forest, temperate forest of oaks and almost 50 different kinds of tree species. It is adjoining Rumtek Monastery and Fambongla wildlife sanctuary.
  13. Water Garden – Located at 16 km. South of Gangtok on 31A Natinal Highway. An ideal spot for picnic with a small swimming pool for children.
  14. Pal Zurmang Kagyud Monastry – Located at Lingdum, East Sikkim is at a distance of 20 km. from Gangtok. A place worth visiting for its religious and exquisite architecture and serene atmosphere.
  15. Tsongo Lake – The sacred lake located at about 30 km. from Gangtok is about 1 km. long, oval in shape, 15 mt. deep and situated at an altitude of 12400 ft. The placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid May.
  16. Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial – Built in the memory of Harbhajan Singh, a sepoy in the 23rd Punjab Regiment. The memorial lies between the Nathu-La and the Jelep-La passeo.
  17. Nathu-La – The border between India and China is 56 km. from Gangtok. It is one of the highest motorable road and is richly covered by varieties of alpine flora and fauna. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place, It is open only on certain particular days of the week.
  18. Tashi View Point – Along the north Sikkim Highway and 8 km away from Gangtok provides breathtaking view of Mt. Khangchen-Donga and Mt. Siniolchu – one of the most graceful peaks in the world.
  19. Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok – Located on a ridge at a distance of 7 km and 11 km respectively offer a panoramic view of the sprawling Gangtok town and mountain range along the horizon.
  20. Sangor-Chotsong Centre – It is a Tibetan refugee monastic institution established in 1961 – the only monastery of the Sankya order – located on a beautiful hill top just 5 km.from Gangtok.
  21. Pastanga – Is in Assam Lingzey at an altitude of 1425 mts. And 2 hours journey from Gantok. Provides magnificent view of the mountain range and lush green mountain trails. The tourists are provided with home stay facilities with organized cultural programme.
  22. Aritar – The Lake near Rhenock about 3 hrs journey from Gangtok, is an excellent location for spending peaceful night in trekkers’ huts, few lodges and private resorts. It provides peaceful environment and panoramic view of the hills.
  23. Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary – Located at a distance of 25 km. from Gangtok, comprises of an area of 51.76 km. The sanctuary is the home for various species of wild animals and birds and large number of wild orchids and rhododendrons. ( For permission – contact Chief Wild Life Warden Forest Department  Deorali Gantok).
  24. Himalayan Zoological Park – 8 kms.from Gangtok also known as Bulbulay is located within a forest environment. One can spot Red Pandas, Barking Deers, Spotted Deers, Snow Leopards etc.
  25. Angling in Sikkim – The Tista and Rangit provides ample opportunities for angling. For an advent angler – the Mahasheer, The Katley and the Trouts provides fond angling opportunities.

West Sikkim

If you are in search of adventure – the west is the district to visit. It goes with the proverbial name as being wild and free as it is the base from where all treks into wilds of the majestic Himalayas begins. Whether it is white water rafting down the frothing waters of Teesta and Rangit, or trekking through the beautiful and dense Rhododendron forest, the West Dist. has it all. Other places of interest in West Sikkim are –

  1. Pemayangtse Monastery On of the oldest monastries in the state, originally established by Lhatsun Chembo, who have performed coronation ceremony of the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Inside, there is a wooden structure depicting the Maha Guru’s heavenly place (Song-tok-Palri) which is considered as a master piece. At an altitude of 6840 ft., it commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills and country side.
  2. Rabdentse Ruins – The second capital of the erstwhile Kingdom after Yuksum till the year 1814 AD from where the kings of Sikkim ruled the country.
  3. Pelling – An urban settlement dotted with hotels, lodges and resorts is at an altitude of 6800 ft. facing the entire mountain range. It provide an eye-catching view of Mt. Khang-Chen-Dzonga.
  4. Yuksom – The first capital of Sikkim. The evidence of the capital in the form of stone seat is still intact. The trekking route to Dzongri and to the base camp of the famous Mt. Khan-Chen-Dzonga begins here.
  5. Khechaopalri Lake – It is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of this state both by Buddhists and the Hindus. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface.
  6. Khang-Chen-Dzonga water falls – An hour’s drive from Pelling. A must for every tourist during or after the monsoon.
  7. Singshore Bridge / Uttarey – The highest  bridge in Sikkim about 25 km. fro Pemayangtse and at about 20 minute drive is Uttarey, a base camp of adventure tourism for Singalila range trail. A place worth visiting.
  8. Sanga-Choling-Monastery – Built in 1697 AD – it is considered as one of the oldest monastery. The road leads through rich forest covers.
  9. Dubdi Monastery – An ideal place for lamas seeking meditation recluse, located on a hill top above Yuksum surrounded by verdant forest. This was the first monastery established soon after the coronation ceremony of the first Chogyal.
  10. Rangit Water world – Provides facilities for a serene white water rafting, located within a short drive to the Shiva Mandir and to Tashiding Monastery.
  11. Tashiding Monastery – Built in the 18th century on the top of a heart shaped hill with the backdrop of the sacred Mt. Khang-Chen- Dzonga by Guru Padma Sambhava. It is a holy place and provides information on sacred religious traditions.
  12. Varseep – At 10000 ft. with motorable road, it provides a trekking route to Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary.
  13. Soreng – A picturesque village with beautiful landscape which is 13 hrs. drive from Pelling. A trek to Jhandi Daura from Soreng is a must to see various species of flowers and birds.
  14. Dentam – An hour’s drive from Pelling, famous for the Alpine Cheese, a product of Indo-Swiss collaboration.
  15. Sirijinga Fookuand Wadhan (Cave) – A 2 kms ride from Sirijonga Yuma Manghkeem, provides a scenic view of a waterfall besides which lies a cave.

North Sikkim

Perhaps the most beautiful of the districts, the North offers an exquisite experience for the lover of nature and alpine scenery. Yumthang  alone is enough to satiate the most demanding with its panoramic Valley of  Flowers. During spring time, the lush meadows abound with delicate wild flowers that carpet the valley floor in a rich riot of colours. Other places of interests are :-

  1. Kabi Lungchok – 17 km from Gantok on the North Sikkim highway is the spot marked by memorial stone pillar where the historical treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepcha Chief and Bhutia Chief was signed.
  2. Seven Sister falls – 32 km. away from Gangtok on the National Highway to North Sikkim.
  3. Phodong Monastery – One of the six major monasteries, located 38 km. away from Gangtok.
  4. Singhik – Provides the most spectacular and closest views of Mt. Khang-Chen-Dzonga and its range.
  5. Chungthang – On the confluence of Lachen and Lachung Chu and the starting point of river Tista, is 95 km. away from Gangtok. Famous for large variety of Orchids, plants and wild life apart from breathtaking scenic grandeur.
  6. Lachung and Lachen – Both are villages with unique scenic grandeur are 23 km. and 29 km. respectively from Chungthang. Both are famous for its close proximity to Yumthang valley and Gurudongmar Lake respectively.
  7. Yumthang – At an elevation of 11800 ft. and 140 km. from Gangtok, is a paradise for nature lovers, with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna.
  8. Gurudongmar Lake (17800 ft.)The lake is considered as one of the sacred lakes of the State. The lake remains milky in colour throughout the year due to ice. Necessary permits are to be obtained from the appropriate authority and normally this is arranged by travel agents.

South Sikkim

Some of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim are located here and a 135 ft. high image of Guru Padmashambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim, is located near the district headquarters at Namchi. Adventure trekking is being promoted in a big way here with a base camp being set up at Ravangla. One can also indulge in mountain biking and natural trails here.

  1. Samdruptse – Located at a distance of 72 km. from Gantok and near Namchi is Samdruptse which in Bhutia language means “The wish fulfilling Hill”.
  2. Namchi – Namchi, meaning “Sky High”, nestled among the hills at an elevation of 5500 ft. commands Panoramic view of the snow capped mountains and vast stretch of valley.
  3. Rabongla – Reminiscent of a town from the wild west. A sleepy hamlet at a height of 7000 ft. it is an Upcoming tourist spot and transit point for the trekkers to Maenam hills and Borang.
  4. Temi Tea Garden – it is the only tea estate existing in the state and produces top quality tea.
  5. Tadong Hill And Maenam Hill – Situated at altitudes of 8530 ft. and 10300 ft. respectively they offer unmatched scenic views from those heights perhaps unmatched in this part of the world.
  6. Singchu – Thang – 45 km. fromGangtok at an altitude of 3500 ft. on the bank of river Teesta, is ideal for Water sports and picnic.

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18 Responses to “Sikkim – At a glance”

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  4. West Sikkim Says:

    Hey thanks for sharing such a detailed information Sikkim, i would also like to say as you walk among the foothills of western Sikkim, India’s least populated state, lush valleys alternate with wide open spaces and forests of towering rhododendrons. You round a bend in the path and your breath is taken away by the stunning view of Kanchenjunga the world’s third-highest mountain. At every turn prayer flags flutter in the breeze.In the mornings, as you awake to catch the glowing pink light that bathes the top of the peaks, the clear air is stirred by the gentle murmur of the monks chanting in a nearby monastery, where you are welcomed warmly and included in prayers.

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